Inauguration's Top Techie

 

Mark Jablonowski '10 managed and designed Obama campaign's ground-breaking technology

By Gerry Boyle '78
 

In the spring of 2007, Mark Jablonowski ’10 set out to get involved in a presidential campaign. He ended up spending the summer working for Barack Obama in New Hampshire, knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of phone calls in  gearing up for that state’s primary.

And then the campaign got wind of Jablonowski’s considerable technical and management skills.

On leave after one year at Colby, where he had planned to be a government/philosophy double major, he soon jumped from field intern to become the Obama campaign’s information technology director for New Hampshire. After New Hampshire, Jablonowski was moved to campaign headquarters in Chicago, and then on to key primaries in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. At each stop, he was charged with helping to put in place all of the equipment and systems for what was by most accounts the most technologically advanced presidential campaign ever.

The Obama campaign is widely acknowledged for its pioneering use of the Internet for raising money and communicating with supporters. Making much of that possible was behind-the-scenes work done by Jablonowski and the tech team.

“Blackberries, laptops, servers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers—anything with an electrical cord.” 

“When you’re in the field,” he said, “you have to be a jack of all trades.”

It was Jablonowski, with others, who pioneered innovative ways to use products like desktop virtualization, allowing multiple keyboards to run off a single computer, giving the campaign “more seats per dollar,” he said. And voice-over Internet protocol was used for inexpensive calling.

“I was managing a lot of the negotiation for large contracts that we had and coming up with new innovative uses of technology that haven’t necessarily been seen on campaigns before,” Jablonowski said.

After Obama won the Democratic nomination, Jablonowski was named the Obama for America IT special projects manager. In an organization known for its youth, he was one of the youngest staffers at the campaign, he said.

Now the 21-year-old Anchorage, Alaska, native is chief technology officer for the inauguration, leading the team responsible for communications infrastructure, internal networks, and security. Jablonowski also oversees the team that is managing data collection for donor information and ticket lists.

No surprise, then, that time off is rare and days on are long. “In terms of the number of days I’ve had off, there have been close to zero,” Jablonowski said, at the inauguration offices in Washington, D.C.

 
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Comments

  • On January 15, 2009, Andy Holleman wrote:
    Very cool. Very true. It fails to capture quite the energy Mark has to jump into something and change it around to his liking or purpose, or that even as an 8th grader he had the understanding to look at a problem, and solve the "larger" problem it represented......"scalable" we would say. It will be interesting to see what the next 20 brings!
  • On January 18, 2009, Tatiana Kowalewski wrote:
    Good for you Mark. You have helped bring back faith in democracy through innovations like yours in the campaign!
  • On January 18, 2009, Anna Craven wrote:
    So wonderful to have someone I know from a younger generation involved in that amazing campaign - Mark is the son of an old friend of mine met in the Pacific many years ago - fantastic story! Congratulations.
  • On January 18, 2009, Joode Weinhold wrote:
    Like Anna Craven I met Mark when we stayed in Anchorage a few years ago as guests of his parents. I remember Mark lent us his car for 2 weeks so we could explore Alaska, which was wonderful of him. I was thrilled to hear of his part in the Obama campaign.
  • On January 19, 2009, Anchorage Daily News wrote:
    From the Anchorage Daily News: HE'S OUR GUY TOO ... Earwigs report the person in charge of Information Technology for the inauguration is a 21-year-old from Anchorage. According to Colby College, where he was a student until taking leave, Mark Jablonowski worked in New Hampshire for the Obama campaign. When they discovered he had gonzo computer skills, they sent him to Chicago, Texas, Pennsylvania and Indiana to set up their online programs. After Obama won the nomination, Jablonowski was named the Obama for America IT special-projects manager. In an organization known for its youth, he was one of the youngest. Now he's chief technology officer for the inauguration, leading the team responsible for communications infrastructure, internal networks and security. Read More: Alaska Ear
  • On January 22, 2009, Jim Gottstein wrote:
    And to think I knew you when . . .
  • On January 22, 2009, Lawrence Buskirk wrote:
    Congrats Mark. That is an amazing accomplishment. From your years at Bowman to working with Obama. That is truly amazing and I am honored to know you. P.S. if Obama needs any Third Mates to drive any ships let him know I need a job. Lol. Keep up the good work.